Ideas Worth Sharing

We all have ideas worth sharing with others, and this is the place to do it. I am particularly interested in those ideas which, if enacted, might make a significant difference in the world in which we live. I'll start with a few of my own ideas which I've mulled over and nurtured for years. I welcome your constructive feedback and will post ideas from others that I think fit my criteria. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

IDEA #16 Sharing the Wealth

The idea of sharing the wealth with members of one's own family, tribe, community, country and world is certainly one of the oldest and most venerable ideas. The winter holiday season is a traditional time for engaging in this practice in the form of gifts, feasts, volunteering, and donations to charitable organizations. It is certainly a time when those less favored suffer the most from hunger, cold, and lack of shelter and warm clothing. So here is a reminder to share your wealth of love, caring, time, attention, good spirits, crafts, and donations. Being needed and having something to give or share is one of the most satisfying aspects of human relationships.

The internet has facilitated charitable giving. A number of "one-click" charity sites can be accessed daily online. Below is a list of my favorites, along with a site evaluating such websites. One-click charities allow people with more time than money to make a tiny charitable contribution each day by clicking a button at the website and considering visiting the sites of sponsors which pay the charity for each click received in return for bringing their name and service or product to your attention.

When I contribute money to a charity I want to know that the money will be used for the purpose I intended. To assure that I check out the charity's rating at the American Institute of Philanthropy's Charity Watch. One of my favorite charities, Mercy Corps, is rated very highly at this site and gives me an opportunity to spread some of my modest wealth to areas of the world that are desperately in need of Western aid. I have much for which to be grateful when compared to others in the world even though I live a frugal life by American standards.

I also contribute to my local food bank and to those organizations that provide me with valuable services all year long, like National Public Radio (NPR) through its Oregon Public Broadcasting affiliate. Spreading the wealth is a healthy spiritual practice all year long, and I wish you a generous spirit this holiday season.

Due to the special holiday activities coming up in my (and your?) life, I've decided to take a rest from posting to this web log until after the New Year. May you enjoy the warmth of family and friends until we meet again!

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Wednesday, December 04, 2002

IDEA #15 Reading Biographies

For five or six years my husband and I read biographies aloud to each other each evening before bed. He would select and read a biography of a man he wanted to learn more about; when he finished that biography I would select and read a biography of a woman I wanted to learn more about. We averaged one biography each month. Not only did we share time together and have rich material to discuss with each other, but again and again we found ourselves saying, "I sure wish I had known that when I graduated from high school."

We realized as we read that our own world view at high school graduation was very restricted and fanciful compared to the view of reality we were gaining by reading in detail about other people's lives and choices. We wished that we had spent the time we had put in reading world literature into reading biographies instead. We could see that we would have been much more in touch with reality and the opportunities that really exist in our environment if that had been the case.

Whoever decided that the way to teach kids to read was to have them read fiction? Who decided that reading and understanding novels--especially old novels, however well-written--was the best way to keep children and teenagers reading and thinking? In this age of extensive television viewing from infancy on, children are exposed to fiction and fantasy several hours each day. What they lack is a firm and growing grip on reality, the real world and its possibilities. I think biographies could give them that.

Biographies also help the reader gain a better grip on history, as a good biography will carefully seat its subject in the times of that person's life. The reader gains a more clear picture of how the historic events of that time affected the lives of the people born and raised in it. A well-researched biography shows how a person's native intelligence and talent interact with the social and natural environment of the time to create a life. It helps a person recognize the opportunities of other times and places as well as the opportunities that may be present for them today.

Biographies help a person see another culture or time from the inside, from a particular person's family and home, education and career. Biographies expand one's view of the world around them, diminishing the barriers set up by geography and social class. Biographies help the reader see what is of lasting worth and value in constructing a satisfying and accomplished life and what is peripheral or distracting. A person well-read in biographies will make a better choice of schooling, place to live, companions and goals. It seems to me that biographies deserve a large place in our K-12 educational curriculum.

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